Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society
The Healdsburg Historical Society was founded on January 29, 1976, with Edwin Langhart as first President. Ed Langhart served from 1948 to 1974 as City Clerk, Administrator, and Manager; he was the town’s unofficial historian. The earliest collection in the City archives was begun in the 1920s, when Julius Myron Alexander (1880-1930), a nephew of early settler Cyrus Alexander, collected materials and began writing about city history. An inventory of the city archives was done in 1969 and again in 1972.
In 1976 Ed Langhart, now retired from the city, was appointed by the Healdsburg City Council as the city’s first Historian and Archivist, and the Healdsburg Museum was installed in a city-owned storefront building near the Plaza. The Historical Society became a non-profit corporation in 1977 with volunteers staffing the Museum. In 1987, when a new building was built for the Healdsburg branch of the Sonoma County Library, the Historical Society raised over $558,000 (bolstered by a $110,000 matching grant from Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. Gauer) to restore and retrofit the former Carnegie Library building; a neo-classical revival structure originally funded by a $10,000 grant from industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
Designed by Petaluma architect Brainerd Jones in 1909 and built by contractor Frank Sullivan of Santa Rosa in 1910-11, the building was saved from demolition by citizens intent on preserving the majesty and memories of the past. In May of 1990, the building reopened as the Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it both houses our City’s history, and serves as part of that history.
After three years, during a budget crisis, the City of Healdsburg eliminated all funding for the Museum, and in 1993 turned over Museum operations to the newly named Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society (though the City continues to own the building and collections, and supports maintenance of building and grounds). As the organization had to rely upon pro-bono professionals who worked at the Museum for some years either as volunteers or city employees, additional funds were raised and a Curator was hired in 1995.
Today the Museum is managed by its Curator Holly Hoods and supported by Assistant Curator Whitney Hopkins and Office Manager Jane Bonham. With a roster of over 100 dedicated volunteers active in all operating areas, the Museum is an active part of the Healdsburg community. The Gallery is staffed by volunteers who greet visitors and explain the collection and displays.